Final curtain for Ruth Cele

Professional and energetic, with a wonderful sense of humour – this is how her colleagues will remember actress Ruth Cele, who passed away in Durban this week at the age of 71.

Cele suffered from diabetes, and died after a related illness and kidney failure, said her daughter, Naledi Cele.

Naledi described her mother as “a good mom, an honest mom who loved her children so much”.

She was also dedicated to her community, and according to fellow actress Xolile Zondi, she was “very bubbly and always fun to work with”.

Zondi told how while working together last month, Cele played a joke on her. Zondi was running late and phoned Cele to ask if the car they were taking to the studio had already left.

Cele replied that it had, leaving Zondi to believe she had been left behind -- while in fact they were waiting for her. “I thought she was serious!” said Zondi.

Another colleague, actress Nolwai Shange, also enjoyed Cele’s sense of humour: “She always had a joke at the perfect occasion.”

Shange said that despite partial blindness caused by Cele’s diabetes, she was energetic and youthful. “She never wanted people to feel sorry for her. She treated [her diabetes] like it was the flu.”

Cele will also be remembered for her professionalism, and for her role as Mamgobhozi in the television drama, Hlala Kwabafileyo, said Zondi.

While still a teenager, Zondi was inspired by Cele’s performance as Mamgobhozi. “When I saw her, I knew I wanted to be an actress.”

Cele appeared in other television series, including Suburban Bliss, Family Bonds and Growing Up. She took up acting at the age of 12 and worked in radio, television and theatre.

Tribute was paid to Cele by KwaZulu-Natal Arts MEC Weziwe Thusi, who said that “her passing on leaves a big void in the arts industry and she will be sorely missed”.

A memorial service is scheduled for the Durban City Hall at 12 noon on Tuesday, after the burial at the Stellawood Cemetery at 9am.

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